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Old 02-05-2011, 03:00 PM
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Default To FLAC or not to FLAC... that is the question.

Ok,

So after rockboxing my clip and fuze i'm interested to see if i can squeeze some more quality out of my music player. So far I really only have mp3's which range from 128-320kbps. Now I of course can tell the difference between a 128 file and a 320, but how does FLAC compare to say 320kbps mp3's?
See i'm going to replace thos 128kbps files to summin better, but i'm wondering if while i'm at it just try and convert/grab summin better than mp3s.
Will there be a massive difference in file sizes?

If you had a choice to get all of yer music to play at the highest quality possible on a RB clip+ or a fuze what format would they be in?

Cheers,

Bruce
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2011, 03:07 PM
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Hmm, FLAC takes much more space. 320kbps vs FLAC, tbh can't notice any difference, but if I would have more than space to storage everything in FLAC, I would do so.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:23 PM
Wl.joey Wl.joey is offline
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I recently moved from mainly mp3s of variable bitrate, ranging anything 108 (lolz) to 320 kbps, to FLAC. For me, the difference is quite noticeable, especially with MP3s sounding like the various components of a song are mixed together, while with FLAC it is easier to distinguish the different sounds coming from, say, the rhythm guitar vs the lead guitar vs the bass. For some of my songs that are mainly vocal, the silences also sound a lot clearer.

But yeah the main issue is definitely space, which for me is amplified a dozen times due to the fact that I still use my 2gb Sansa e200 (also lols), without an expansion card. In the space of a FLAC album, I could maybe fit the entire discography of some artist on there with variable MP3 (like ~500mb). I think FLAC is definitely pushing me to getting a higher capacity player. It should also be noted that I have a set of low-end IEMs, but FLACs still sound better than 320kbps mp3 files.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:23 PM
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Instead of guessing or taking the advice of someone that doesn't hear the same as me I'd ABX with foobar2000. That way you can determine exactly you can hear or not. If you can't reliably identify a FLAC file from a lower bitrate .mp3 why eat up disk space with a bunch of bits you can't hear?

ABXing will allow you determine the bitrate that is transparent to you. Once you determine that you can then target the bitrate that will work best for you. The difference in file size will then be determined by what bitrate you decide to use.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:25 PM
Wl.joey Wl.joey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post
Instead of guessing or taking the advice of someone that doesn't hear the same as me I'd ABX with foobar2000. That way you can determine exactly you can hear or not. If you can't reliably identify a FLAC file from a lower bitrate .mp3 why eat up disk space with a bunch of bits you can't hear?

ABXing will allow you determine the bitrate that is transparent to you. Once you determine that you can then target the bitrate that will work best for you. The difference in file size will then be determined by what bitrate you decide to use.
sounds like the answer to something I've always wanted to try but CBA to! Thanks for the link
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:29 PM
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Some good advice here, thanx ppl.

@skip252, i don't have foobar installed, tried it, loved its 'lightness' but couldn't configure it in a way that suited me (with the custom panels thing u install etc). Neways, is this feature available on winamp or is it just a foobar thing (im guessing foobar only).

I love foobar, don't get me wrong i'd switch to it in a second if I could get it displaying the way I'd want it. I just couldn't even get it to show me my current playlist lol
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  #7  
Old 02-05-2011, 03:45 PM
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Foobar takes a slight amount of finagling, but once you figure out how to work with panels/components, it is a breeze to get it exactly how you want it.

Not sure how to explain it to you BB, especially since I am unsure what layout you are after...
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  #8  
Old 02-05-2011, 03:55 PM
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foobar2000 can be installed with a portable option now. Nothing is written to the registry so it won't disrupt any of your other media managers. No need for any elaborate configuration if you're just test driving it. When you get finished you can simply delete the installation folder. You can find other ABX testing programs if you look around but the one in fooby2k is the most common I know of.

fooby2k also has a Converter that will let you test various bitrates easily. Just grab a copy of LAME from RareWares. Put your download where you can find it easily. Then right click on the FLAC file and follow the prompts. A few seconds later you'll have a properly encoded .mp3 to conduct your tests.

The default settings for .mp3 conversion is set what at what some consider fairly low. I'd still try that first. If you can distinguish the difference that and the original FLAC through ABX testing you can always try a higher -V setting.

LAME is optimized for the -V quality settings rather than a constant bitrate. Constant bitrate LAME encoded files waste space and just don't gain you anything in audible quality.
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:36 PM
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Double-blind (aka ABX) testing is the only way to reliably see how low you can go with bitrates before you can tell the difference. I think you'll be very surprised.
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:39 PM
discoveryellow discoveryellow is offline
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Put on your best ears you have, plug in in the best D/A device you own, make a test play list of a range of music both in mp3's and flac, indulge, and report back here if you hear the difference and when.
I figured out for myself that with my Sony V6 and SB Live! the mp3's at 256kbps (normal stereo [e.g. not joint] and no smart encoding) suffices for almost all recordings.
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discoveryellow View Post
Put on your best ears you have, plug in in the best D/A device you own, make a test play list of a range of music both in mp3's and flac, indulge, and report back here if you hear the difference and when.
I figured out for myself that with my Sony V6 and SB Live! the mp3's at 256kbps (normal stereo [e.g. not joint] and no smart encoding) suffices for almost all recordings.
General rules of thumb for you may have no value for anyone else. If that testing was done with your knowledge of what was playing it has dubious value. If you know which type of file is playing your mind will use that information in making it's judgment. That's part of why ABX testing is the accepted standard.

Try ABXing the same files. If you can still tell the difference without knowing what's playing, good. You may be in for a surprise though.

Last edited by skip252; 02-05-2011 at 04:54 PM.
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  #12  
Old 02-05-2011, 04:58 PM
discoveryellow discoveryellow is offline
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To give a fuller disclaimer, I still retain my original CDs on a bookshelf or at least FLAC back ups on an external HDD, so just in case I want to play on a CD player, or my ears get better and I decide there is a difference.
Though ears don't get better with age. I am 25 and already can hear slightly less then when I was 16. No kidding.

Yes, it was a blind test, by the way.

p.s. in my oppinion getting rid of variable bitrate and joint stereo makes more difference than shifting up from 256kbps to flac.
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  #13  
Old 02-05-2011, 05:01 PM
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Blind in what way?
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  #14  
Old 02-05-2011, 05:04 PM
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@lestatar, I have included a screenie of how my winamp looks (how i like it). Where i have commented with a '?' means i'm not really sure of what that specific area is called, but hopefully u get the idea. My main gripe with foobar was that to get a library view of art was quite tricky but the worst was getting a view panel for the dynamic playlist, I could play songs, skip em etc, but i could not find the actual list of them anywhere
I tried a few 'done for ya' already configs but none of them were to my exact liking.
I don't like how winamp takes so long to load, is CPU intensive etc, I loved foobars speed, if i could combine the layout here in winamp in a foobar configuration that would be ace, I think I MIGHT have been able to manage it but only after i gained a degree in Advance Computer Programming Matrix C++ teehee

@skip, i totally understand what yer saying regarding ABX, i totally believe ppl will say summin is better when they know it is before hand rather than actually using their senses. Will be sure to give this a whirl.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg winamp.jpg (72.1 KB, 8 views)
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Last edited by BruceBanner; 02-05-2011 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:09 PM
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I noticed the jpg was compressed quite a bit when i attached it, I did manage to get it under the max size for jpg attachment but it seemed to have compressed further. Anyway the red txt says (if u can't read it):

Top Left - Controls
Top Right - EQ etc
Right - Current Playlist (Dynamic?)
Bottom Right - Now Playing Album Art
Bottom Top - Media Library in Art View
Bottom Bottom - Library Playlist?
Left Bottom - Library
Left - Playlists, usually have more but yet to add
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  #16  
Old 02-05-2011, 05:20 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Try a search for "deviantart foobar2000". Dozens if not hundreds of "skins" there. fooby2k purists frown on them but I ain't a purist. Personally I just use the vanilla theme but you may want to check it out. They've got some gorgeous looking items there.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:21 PM
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Yeh i have done that in the past (deviantart), still couldn't find what i was looking for (hmmm.. sounds like a song lyric i know)
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wl.joey View Post
I recently moved from mainly mp3s of variable bitrate, ranging anything 108 (lolz) to 320 kbps, to FLAC. For me, the difference is quite noticeable, especially with MP3s sounding like the various components of a song are mixed together, while with FLAC it is easier to distinguish the different sounds coming from, say, the rhythm guitar vs the lead guitar vs the bass. For some of my songs that are mainly vocal, the silences also sound a lot clearer.

But yeah the main issue is definitely space, which for me is amplified a dozen times due to the fact that I still use my 2gb Sansa e200 (also lols), without an expansion card. In the space of a FLAC album, I could maybe fit the entire discography of some artist on there with variable MP3 (like ~500mb). I think FLAC is definitely pushing me to getting a higher capacity player. It should also be noted that I have a set of low-end IEMs, but FLACs still sound better than 320kbps mp3 files.
It's almost definitely the placebo affect in this case. . .

I don't think it's worth using FLAC on a DAP. Use high bit rate lossy.

"p.s. in my oppinion getting rid of variable bitrate and joint stereo makes more difference than shifting up from 256kbps to flac."

pffft.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:24 PM
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I personally archive in FLAC, and convert to mp3 (LAME V0) with dbpoweramp and put that on my player. I have tried ABXing and my ears usually don't notice a difference past 192kbps CBR files. I don't keep my rips i move them to the player as i dont like having multiple versions of the same album in my archive, if you transcode a lot dbpoweramp is PRICELESS nothing has it's speed.

For those who swear they hear a difference between 320kbps and FLAC really need to download foobar and the ABX module and actually do a real ABX test, if you haven't you have no idea what you're talking about as you have no solid frame of reference, and going back and forth between two files on your DAP is NOT a real test.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adub View Post
..and going back and forth between two files on your DAP is NOT a real test.
Why not?
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